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Statewide News

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 13:34

Why Are Americans Buying So Many Guns?

Law-abiding Americans are buying guns at a record pace, and most tell us it’s for self-defense. Democrats, however, are far more likely than others to believe it is too easy to buy a gun these days.gunpurchasing

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that nearly one-out-of-four Americans (23%) say they or someone in their immediate family has bought a gun in the past year. Seventy percent (70%) have not, but six percent (6%) aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-six percent (66%) believe self-defense is the main reason most people purchase a gun. Just five percent (5%) think they make such a purchase to commit a criminal act, while one percent (1%) say it’s for job purposes. Twenty-two percent (22%) say most people buy a gun for some other reason.

Forty-four percent (44%) of Americans think it is too easy to buy a gun in this country. Only 11% say it’s too hard, but 36% consider the level of difficulty about right.

A closer look finds that 64% of Democrats believe it is too easy to buy a gun in the United States, but only 28% of Republicans and 36% of those not affiliated with either major political party agree. Still, 21% of Democrats say they or someone in their immediate family has bought a gun in the past year, compared to 29% of Republicans and 20% of unaffiliateds.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of Americans with a gun in their household feel safer because someone in that household owns a gun.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on April 11-12, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters still tend to oppose stricter gun control, perhaps in part because few think tougher gun laws will reduce the level of violent crime in this country.

Americans in nearly every demographic category strongly agree that most people purchase a gun for self-defense. Few think they have a criminal act in mind.

Men are more likely than women to say there’s a new gun in their immediate family. Women feel more strongly that it is too easy to buy a gun in America.

Senior citizens are the least likely to say they or someone in their family has bought a gun recently and are the strongest believers that it’s too easy to purchase one.

Whites are slightly less likely than blacks and other minority Americans to report the purchase of a gun in the past year. Blacks are the most likely to say most buy a gun for self-defense.

Americans with children in the home are twice as likely to have a new gun in the family as those who don’t have children living with them.

Among those who say they or an immediate family member has bought a gun in the past year, only 24% think the process is too easy; 53% say the level of difficulty is about right. But 54% of those who don’t have a new gun around say it’s too easy to buy one.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of all Americans oppose a plan in their community like one being considered in several major cities that would pay criminals up to $1,000 a month not to kill someone with a gun.

Just 22% of voters would feel safer living in a neighborhood where nobody was allowed to own a gun over one where they could have a gun for their own protection. Sixty-eight percent (68%) would feel safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) think it would be bad for America if only government officials such as the police and military personnel were allowed to have guns. Only 34% believe laws regarding the ownership of guns should be the responsibility of the federal government.


Alissa Lloyd uses popsicle sticks to explain potential energy to fifth-graders at Kennedy Elementary School in Norman. Extensive medical bills forced her to drop out of school, but now through a new program at OU, she is earning her degree in early childhood education and looking forward to teaching in Oklahoma.

Alissa Lloyd’s dream of becoming a teacher was abruptly halted when, at age 21, she discovered she had cancer. Her battle with the disease forced her to drop out of college and drained her finances. But thanks to a special program for promising teachers at the University of Oklahoma, she is back on track pursuing a lifetime of helping children.

“It was the week my hair started to fall out that I knew I would never be the same,” said Lloyd, who underwent months of chemotherapy. “There was one night specifically that my parents held me as I sobbed, and they cried too, of course. I was coming to terms with having a life-threatening disease.”

OU’s Debt-Free Teachers Program is helping education students finance their education and overcome college debt, while at the same time helping children in high-need areas in Oklahoma. Students like Lloyd can earn $5,000 per year after graduation for up to four years by making a commitment to tackle some of the state’s most challenging teaching assignments.

Lloyd’s most crippling low was facing the fear that she might never become a teacher. She believes, however, there was a reason she endured Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma: to help children who are also facing life struggles.

“It took about six months after remission to feel even halfway normal again, and that’s when a spark was lit inside me,“ Lloyd said. "I wanted to use my pain and my fear to help students with theirs. My life started over, and I became more passionate about teaching than I even knew I could be.”

Addressing the teacher shortage

The Debt-Free Teachers Program is an incentive for new teachers not only to embrace high-need areas but to keep them in Oklahoma. The teacher shortage in the state is most prevalent in specialized subject areas like math and science, and in rural and inner-urban areas.

Dr. Gregg Garn, dean of OU’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, said the program was created in 2014 in response to graduates leaving the state immediately after receiving their degrees.

Only 45 percent of OU’s PK-12 education students work in the state’s public schools after graduation, according to a September 2015 study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Figures are similar for other universities across the state with top-producing teaching-degree programs.

Out-of-state students who are recruited by Oklahoma universities typically do not stay in the state either. From 2010 to 2014, 18 percent of graduates from the state’s institutions of higher education originated from outside Oklahoma, but only a quarter of those went on to serve Oklahoma’s schoolchildren.

“We were looking at the crisis where so many of our graduates walk across that stage, and it’s the last time they’re in Oklahoma because our salaries are just so uncompetitive when you compare and contrast the surrounding states. The idea was how do we keep our best and brightest teachers to grow our local communities, to grow our state?” Garn said.

Only two states – Mississippi and South Dakota – have lower average teacher salaries than Oklahoma, where the average pay and benefits is $44,628, according to a 2015 study by the National Education Association. Barring any new initiatives, Oklahoma is certain to drop on that list; South Dakota lawmakers passed a $67 million measure earlier this year to raise its average teacher salary to $48,500 for fiscal year 2017.

Further, the AIR study projects that the number of students completing Oklahoma educator-preparation programs will decline by 22 percent over the next five years.

“There are a lot of different groups this program really appeals to,” Garn said, “not to say anything of the superintendents who are scrambling to hire great people. And if this keeps better candidates in their pools, they’re another group that’s been really excited about this idea.”

Oklahoma’s teacher shortage has been a steadily growing problem. Since July 1, 2015, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has issued 1,060 emergency certifications. Emergency certifications grant new teachers a yearlong extension to meet training and assessment requirements for certification and are only approved after a district cannot find otherwise qualified teaching candidates. The number of emergency certifications has already more than doubled since last year, and it has skyrocketed since 2012, when emergency certifications were considered a rare exception. That year, the department issued only 30 emergency certifications.

“We have a lot of conversations with students to say it’s not all about the money,” said Garn, who notes that with an average ACT score of 26, his students could tackle any degree program at OU. “There are some really important things in life that have very little to do with money. They have to do with helping others, needing to create a bright future for others. That makes teaching a pretty rewarding profession despite the other challenges.“

How the program works

Based on conversations with superintendents and principals in Oklahoma, Garn said the university has defined five teaching areas where the need for qualified teachers is the highest: math, science, world language, special education and early childhood education. Candidates may teach in any subject area if they are in rural or inner-city schools.

OU undergraduates are selected based on merit and financial need and must sign a legally binding document in which they agree to teach at least four years in one of the state's high-need areas. The money is made available through a Lew Wentz Foundation Loan, and teachers have six years after they receive their degrees to complete their service. Teachers who fulfill their obligation have their debt forgiven. If not, they must repay the loan with interest.

Garn said there has been a huge demand from students who want to participate in the program, which began in 2014. So far, 37 students are enrolled, with eight graduating in May. Nine have already completed their studies and are serving in local schools. The program is fully funded through private donations.

Jonathan Johnson was one of the first teachers to benefit from the Debt-Free Teachers Program. He was part of the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy, which gives additional guidance to teachers in high-need areas through specialized professional development and ongoing mentoring in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Johnson, who teaches fourth grade at Stand Watie Elementary School in Oklahoma City, received $5,000, enough to pay off his college debt. He said the program made up the difference of working in a higher-paid market and has made it possible for him to return to OU for his master’s degree in education.

“It’s very disheartening to know that I could be making thousands more if I move just three hours away, but I really think it’s a lot of fun to see the changes you can make in the people who really need help,” Johnson said. “I want to be a good role model and a good example for them. If you’re a good teacher, you can take fourth-graders who are on a first-grade reading level and see a big difference by the end of the year.”

Cancer survivor Lloyd plans to graduate from OU in December with a degree in early childhood education. Now 24, she is currently earning credit by serving part-time at Kennedy Elementary, a Norman school with a high percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches.

“I have a huge, huge heart for low-income areas,” she said. “I think those kids need somebody just a little bit more. They need a few more advocates on their side.”

Finding funding

Garn said the idea of a “reverse scholarship” resonated with donors because they know they will receive a return on their investment.

Oklahoma State Regent Mike Turpen is one of those supporters. Turpen, who has chaired multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns for Lyric Theatre and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, said the hope is to expand the program to every university in the state.

“Educators impact eternity,” Turpen said. “We’re trying to honor teachers, respect teachers, help teachers, and for God’s sake, keep them in Oklahoma instead of going south of the Red River.”

Turpen will join banker Gene Rainbolt, a longtime advocate of improving and diversifying the Oklahoma economy, at a fundraiser for the Debt-Free Teachers Program. “A Literary Evening with Gene Rainbolt and Mike Turpen” will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, April. 20, at Beaird Lounge in OU’s Oklahoma Memorial Union. The two will discuss their respective biographies, Out of the Dust and Turpen Time. Free books will be given to all attendees.

Turpen said $6.9 million has been raised for the Debt-Free Teachers Program, but it is $3.1 million away from its fundraising goal. He hopes the April 20 event will bring in at least $100,000.

Alissa Lloyd sought out OU in part because she needed that financial support after medical bills made it impossible to pay tuition.

“I can’t have a bad day after I’ve had cancer,” Lloyd said. “I feel like I went through that pain so that I could channel it when I help children who are hurting. Having cancer has made me so much more passionate about teaching.”

Written by Annette Price, communications and constituent services specialist at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Price gouging statutes in effect for 18 counties after emergency declared

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Oklahomans should be wary of criminals who stream into communities to target homes and businesses damaged by the recent tornadoes in the Tulsa area and wildfires in western Oklahoma.

Oklahomans should be mindful of scams involving cleanup, removal, home repair, and tree trimming, as well as price gouging after disasters. Oklahoma’s price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services during a state of emergency and for 30 days thereafter, the attorney general said. The act additionally is in effect for another 180 days for prices to repairs, remodeling and construction. For tips to avoid fraud in the wake of disaster, please download a copy of the AG's Disaster Scam Prevention Packet below.

"After disasters, Oklahomans need to be cautious, patient, and particularly wary of criminals known as ‘travelers’ who target disaster-stricken communities to take advantage of those harmed by tornadoes, fires or other disasters.” Attorney General Pruitt said. “Whether it is travelers’ scams or price-gouging from unscrupulous businesses, my office will work to ensure that home and business owners have the essential information needed to protect themselves from further harm. If anyone thinks they have been scammed, they should contact my office immediately so we can take appropriate action."

Attorney General Pruitt cautioned Oklahomans to be wary of repair services and contractors who:

Solicit for work door-to-door;
Offer discounts for finding other customers;
“Just happen to have” materials left over from a previous job;
Accept only cash payments;
Pressure you for an immediate decision;
Ask you to pay for the entire job up-front.
Attorney General Pruitt suggests the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:

Ask for referrals from people you trust;
Try to do business with local companies;
Request to see proof of certification and insurance;
Check out the repair service with the AG’s Consumer Protection Unit, the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board, and the Better Business Bureau;
Ask for customer references;
Get written estimates from several companies;
Don’t do business without a written contract;
Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing;
Agree on start and completion dates, and have them in the contract.
Oklahoma’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for 18 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin recently declared states of emergency due to varying issues:

Wildfires and drought conditions (March 28): Woods.
Tornadoes and severe storms (April 1): Craig, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Rogers, Tulsa and Washington.
Wildfires and critical fire conditions (April 6): Alfalfa, Blaine, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Logan, Major and Woodward.
Oklahomans who suspect fraud related to disaster cleanup or repairs, or who experience price gouging, should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or (918) 581-2885.

Click here for a copy of the AG's Disaster Scam Prevention Packet.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today announced that 10 Oklahoma counties may now receive disaster assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a result of the winter storm and flooding that began December 26.

The designation provides SBA low-interest disaster loans for homeowners and business owners in Cherokee, Mayes and Ottawa counties to replace any property damaged by the storm that was not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. The loan program is also available to assist businesses that sustained economic injury due to the storm.

Under SBA rules, the contiguous counties of Adair, Craig, Delaware, Muskogee, Rogers, Sequoyah and Wagoner are also eligible for assistance.

The state requested the SBA declaration on March 23 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the governor’s appeal for individual assistance. Two counties included in the governor’s request, Pushmataha and McCurtain, were not approved for the SBA declaration.


Rep. Roger Thompson receives his 2015 Oklahoma Farm Bureau Champion Award from OKFB’s District Four Director Jimmy Wayne Kinder at the organization’s Legislative Conference March 7.

Rep. Roger Thompson is one of 12 state leaders and legislators presented with the 2015 Oklahoma Farm Bureau Champion Award at the organization’s Legislative Conference March 7.

Thompson was chosen for his outstanding support of Oklahoma farmers and ranchers during the 2015 legislative session, including State Question 777, or the Right to Farm.

“As the state’s largest general farm organization, Oklahoma Farm Bureau is dedicated to preserving the livelihood of Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers,” said Tom Buchanan, OKFB president. “We’re honored to recognize these state leaders for their support of agriculture in 2015.”

Eleven other state leaders received the award including: Attorney General Scott Pruitt; Rep. Scott Biggs, Chickasha; Rep. James Leewright, Bristow; Rep. Charles McCall, Atoka; Rep. Tom Newell, Seminole; Rep. Charles Ortega, Altus; Sen. Don Barrington, Lawton; Sen. Brian Bingman, Sapulpa; Sen. Ron Justice, Chickasha; Sen. Mike Schulz, Altus; and Sen. Jason Smalley, Stroud.

Nominations for the awards were received from county Farm Bureaus and the OKFB board of directors.


Oklahoma City (Feb. 26) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education today announced the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, joining the inaugural cohort of states across the country committing to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.

Oklahoma was recognized for its leadership by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) at the #GoOpen Exchange, a gathering of state and district leaders, education technology platform providers and non-profit organizations working together to help educators transition to using openly licensed educational resources, which can reduce costs for items like textbooks.

Under the commitment, Oklahoma will develop a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component, create and maintain a statewide repository of openly licensed resources and collaborate with other #GoOpen states to share learning and professional development resources.

“In order to ensure Oklahoma is offering an education that fully prepares students for college and career, we need to keep up with technology,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said. “Openly licensed resources can be updated regularly, and they reduce overhead for districts, freeing up funds that can directly benefit schoolchildren. The #GoOpen initiative offers districts the chance to collaborate on high-quality resources they might not otherwise have considered.”

Since the launch of #GoOpen, school districts from more than 16 states have worked with innovators from education technology companies, districts and nonprofit organizations who have committed to create new tools and provide professional learning opportunities.


“States are powerful collaborators in supporting and scaling innovation. They can connect forward-thinking educators, share effective ideas and approaches widely, amplify successes and support districts in leveraging limited resources,” said Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the USDE.

After the launch of the #GoOpen initiative, participating states will be able to help local districts transition to the new model. Broken Arrow is the first Oklahoma district to pledge to #GoOpen; others are expected to follow.

Openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential not only to empower educators but also increase equitable access to high-quality education opportunities in the United States.

“Switching to openly licensed educational materials has enabled school districts to repurpose funding typically spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning,” says Andrew Marcinek, Open Education Advisor at the USDE. “We are excited that Oklahoma is committed to supporting its districts in using openly licensed educational resources.”

For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit http://tech.ed.gov/open.


Friday, 19 February 2016 10:28

Registration open for booths at Kids Fair

Plans are well under way for the annual Kids Fair for area families, and booth registrations are being accepted for agencies and groups that want to help promote the health, well-being and safety of area children.

This year’s theme for the Kids Fair – formerly known as the Baby Fair – is Let’s Move and Groove. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Southeast Expo Center on U.S. Highway 270, just west of McAlester.

So far, plans involve booths hosted by:

• McAlester Regional Health Center
• Beekeepers Association
• Caring Hands
• Choctaw Nation
• Girl Scouts of America
• Kiamichi Technology Center
• KiBois
• McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
• McAlester Fire Department
• McAlester Public Library
• Pittsburg County Health Department
• Youth Emergency Shelter

Each booth will offer activities or information benefitting children up to age 12, from Hopscotch and Hula Hoops to vaccinations, photo IDs and information about child safety, CPR and nursing.

Each year, about 800 adults and children attend the fair. There is no cost to attend and all activities are free.

There is no cost to host a booth, although exhibitors are asked to donate a door prize. For a registration form, contact Pat Tolson at the OSU Extension Service at 918-423-4120 or Donna Engleman at 918-426-7351. The deadline to register is March 7.

MRHC is a regional 171-bed general acute care public trust hospital serving a region comprised of eight counties in Southeast Oklahoma. With more than 700 employees, the hospital offers a wide array of clinics, and ancillary and outpatient programs.

By Betty Anderson

In a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners of Okmulgee County on February 1, 2016 Emergency Management Director of Okmulgee County, Tim Creighton, reported that Governor Mary Fallin has requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government related to the winter storm, ice, sleet and flooding that began December 26, 2015 that affected more than 50 counties in Oklahoma.

According to the Oklahoma government website, Fallin requested individual assistance for homeowners, renters and business owners in nine counties, as well as public assistance to aid municipalities, counties, rural electric cooperatives and the state with infrastructure repairs and costs associated with responding to the storm in 41 counties.

The nine counties included in the request for individual assistance are: Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes, McCurtain, Muskogee, Ottawa, Pushmataha andSequoyah.
The 41 counties are included in the request for public assistance are: Adair, Alfalfa, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cherokee, Coal, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Custer, Delaware, Dewey, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Hughes, Jackson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Latimer, McCurtain, McIntosh, Major, Mayes, Muskogee, Noble, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Pittsburg, Pushmataha, Roger Mills, Sequoyah, Tilman, Washita and Woods.

Preliminary assessments indicate 108 homes were destroyed and 99 others were damaged as a result of the storms. Additionally, an estimated $48 million in infrastructure damages and response costs have been identified in these counties.

The storm resulted in power outages for more than 200,000 homes and businesses statewide, numerous road closures and dangerous travel conditions in some areas. The storm is blamed for at least four deaths and 104 injuries.

If approved, additional counties may be added to the request at a later date should conditions warrant.

Fallin was denied in 2015 for her request for two counties, Tulsa and Cleveland for tornadoes, flooding and straight-line winds.  In a letter to Fallin denying her request, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate says the damage caused by the storms was not beyond the capabilities of the state, local governments and volunteer agencies to handle. The state will see how these winter storms and their effects are viewed by FEMA for these counties.

Free Services Available Through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. X, 2016) — What would it take for you to quit smokeless tobacco? During Through with Chew Week, Feb. 14-20, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline encourages smokeless tobacco users to explore the free services offered by the Helpline.

“Quit Coaches at the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline are specially trained to provide smokeless tobacco users with customized Quit Plans to help them be successful,” said Jason, Quit Coach™ for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. “We provide a variety of free tools, including free phone and web coaching, free patches, gum or lozenges, text and email support and more.”

According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, smokeless tobacco use has increased steadily since 2004. Several contributing factors include increased advertising by the tobacco industry, the introduction of a wide variety of new smokeless products and flavors at low price points, and marketing messages intended to specifically appeal to current or former smokers. Many smokers switch to smokeless tobacco as a method of quitting smoking, yet it is even more habit forming, containing up to four times the highly addictive nicotine found in cigarettes.hrough With Chew Week

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, funded by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), encourages smokeless tobacco users to understand the facts about smokeless tobacco and think about quitting during Through with Chew Week.

Don’t be fooled. Smokeless isn’t harmless. Smokeless Facts:
What harm can smokeless tobacco cause to your body?

• Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals and can cause oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer.
• Sugar in smokeless tobacco may cause decay in exposed tooth roots.
• Dip and chew can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth where the tobacco is held. The gums do not grow back.
• Leathery white patches and red sores in the mouth are common and can turn into cancer.
Why is smokeless tobacco addictive?
• Nicotine, found in all tobacco products, is a highly addictive drug that acts in the brain and throughout the body.
• Dip and chew contain more nicotine than cigarettes.
• Holding an average-size dip in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes. Someone who dips two cans a week gets as much or more nicotine as a pack-a-day smoker.

“Even if you’ve tried to quit before, it is important to try again and take advantage of the free resources available to you,” said Jennifer Avery, TSET Healthy Living Program Coordinator serving Okmulgee County.

“Shortly after quitting, your health will improve, you’ll have more money in your pocket and, most importantly, you will have more quality time to spend with loved ones.”

Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit OKhelpline.com to explore all of the free services available to Oklahomans. Connect with the Helpline through social media by liking the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline on Facebook or following @OKhelpline on Twitter and Instagram. To learn more about Through With Chew Week, visit OKhelpline.com/through-with-chew.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service for Oklahomans wanting to quit tobacco. Funding is primarily provided by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma Employees Group Insurance Division and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 300,000 Oklahomans since 2003 and was ranked the top quitline for reaching tobacco users seeking treatment in FY2013 by the North American Quitline Consortium.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more go to: www.ok.gov/tset.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Monday announced Medicaid fraud charges against a licensed professional counselor from Hugo.

Adeline Youngblood, 26, worked as an LPC in southeastern Oklahoma when she billed for treatment sessions that never occurred. This resulted in a total of $23,921.28 in false Medicaid billing.

Youngblood is charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud, one count of fraudulently obtaining personal identity of other persons and one count of using access to computers to violate Oklahoma statutes. If convicted, Youngblood could face fines up to $125,000 in addition to restitution and up to 16 years in prison.

The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is the only Oklahoma law enforcement agency dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of Medicaid fraud. The unit also investigates and prosecutes abuse of residents in Medicaid-funded nursing homes and state facilities. To report suspected Medicaid fraud, contact the AG’s Office at (405) 522-2963.

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